He was the eldest son of Rhodri Mawr (the Great), and, on the death of his father at the hands of the Mercians in 878, succeeded to Anglesey and the adjacent parts of Gwynedd. He was, no doubt, the victor in the battle fought in 881 on the banks of the Conway — a Mercian overthrow which the Welsh regarded as ‘God's vengeance for Rhodri.’
At first, he sought security from further attack by an alliance with the Danish kingdom of York, but this bore little fruit, and instead he turned to Alfred of Wessex. He was cordially received; honour and gifts were bestowed upon him, and the king stood as his godfather at confirmation. In return, he promised obedience to Alfred as over-king, a position which gave him equality with Ethelred of Mercia. Such was his standing in 893, according to Asser; it was with English help that in 895 he ravaged Ceredigion and Ystrad Tywi, held most likely by his brother Cadell. He died in 916, to be succeeded by his son Idwal Foel (the Bald).
From Anarawd were descended the later rulers of Gwynedd, as those of Deheubarth were from Cadell. It was but to be expected that the men of the South should later contend that Cadell was the elder of the two, but the evidence is against this view. It was fully discussed and controverted by Robert Vaughan of Hengwrt in British Antiquities Revived (Oxford, 1662; reprinted, Bala, 1834).
Published date: 1959
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